Netflix’s popular Emmy winning series, Ozark, is set to start shooting in the state of Georgia (and across the US) from 9 November with several Covid protocols in place, including colour coded zones and restrictions on travel logistics.
“The first block of filming will take place over 38 days, 30 of which will be in 40 different locations,” Wesley Hagan, LMGI, location manager for Ozark, told KFTV in its production webinar, which took place October 1.
Travelling from one location to the other is going to prove complicated in these tough Covid times. For example, heading from Georgia to Chicago, crew will need to isolate for 14 days, which makes it difficult for continuation.
Netflix has also put in place strict Covid protocols and is adding production team members on a daily basis in preparation for what will be a very different shoot to the previous seasons of the popular show.
A colour-coded zone system has been put in place with the production teams careful to restrict exposure to those in Group A, including the cast, director and camera operators. Members of this group also have to be tested three or four times a week, which is “time consuming”, said Hagan.
“We’re using the nasal swab PCR test, which has a 24hr turnaround for results, but this varies depending on state and if cases are going up and down,” added Hagan.
Lead actor, producer and director, Jason Bateman, has already said he will not be directing any episodes of this fourth and final season since it would require him to interact with too many members of the crew. Also, if he or any of the actors were to get sick, they would have to shut down production.
Travel logistics for the shoot are also going to prove more costly and time consuming. “We’ve been told by our Covid team that we can only have two people in a production van, which adds an immense amount of time getting people to and from set.
“Plus, we are being told to try and show locations that have crew parking adjacent, so crew can walk to set. It’s a dynamic situation and we have to dynamically reassess everything. It’s a fine line between safety and production and we’re learning a lot as we go.”
Ozark is in its fourth season, so is “a well-oiled machine” and has a team that’s been together a long time, so that helps,” insisted Hagan. “But we’ve had to hire an enormous amount of people to help our Covid team of 10-15 staff, be it anywhere from a PA to a production supervisor.
“We’ve trained them to help because when you’ve got 150 crew members you need to keep them in their lanes. We haven’t even started shooting yet, so the number of Covid support staff is likely to grow.”
Ozark’s final season will feature two separate seven-episode runs, for a total of 14, and “marks the final chapter in the Byrde family’s journey from suburban Chicago life to their criminal enterprise in the Ozarks,” according to Netflix.